Under My Bed (17)
…. picking up from Sheer Curtains (16)
The remainder of the school year flew by at record speeds. As the year went on my personality grew. I was withdrawn and quiet at home so I became extremely loud and opinionated at school. Somehow, it was working for me. My group of friends increased but being “me” was exhausting and there were times I wished I was anybody else.
I spent quite a few months looking over my shoulder and praying that John wasn’t there. I had a routine that I had developed at night before I went to bed. It didn’t make the nightmares go away but at least I could fall asleep easier. I looked through my sheer curtains to the street just to make sure I couldn’t see anyone there. I glanced under my bed, with one eye open, and then took a deep breathe. I checked inside my closet and shut the door before climbing into bed. When the lights were out, the shadows were my enemy.
Fortunately for me, there were never any signs of John. It was good because I finally had a sense of peace. At the same time, I started to question what I had actually seen. Was my mind playing tricks on me? I became comfortable in my daily routine and after a while I stopped being so paranoid. I stopped looking over my shoulder and around parking lots. I stopped checking under my bed. Heading into third grade, I was ready to conquer the world. I was entering writing contests at school and had joined the girl scouts. My plate was full. I still had dance, baseball in spring, piano, and my after school programs. It was crazy times.
Spring came around and it was time for baseball again. I loved it. We practiced hard and my team played well. It was halfway through the season and we had just took a victory we had needed to stay on top of standings. It was exciting! The team was celebrating by going across the street to the pizza place for some dinner. It was coaches treat. Everyone gathered their stuff and I sat in the dugout. My dad and Karen weren’t there. I couldn’t just leave. The coaches wife came over and told me to hurry up.
“I can’t go. My dad isn’t here.”
This seemed to be the story of my life, but the coaches wife insisted that I go. She claimed that since my dad just dropped me off at the fields that she was in charge of me. They couldn’t just leave me there at night all alone. I wish they had. I didn’t have any choice but to go with them. She assured me that she would call my dad and that everything would be okay. I hesitated, knowing what the outcome might be, took a deep breathe and went with them.
It seemed harmless enough at the time. Considering all the parents were told the week prior that we’d be hitting up the pizza place to celebrate if we’d won, I was sure he would know where we went. Our team and all the parents sat down at the long dark brown benches. There was excitement in the air as everyone chatted away and recalled the best plays of the game. I got caught up in it too and wasn’t paying attention to what was going on around me. Pizza came to the table and so did pitchers of soda. I was starving but before I ate I needed to pee. I stood up and informed the coach I was headed to the bathroom. He pointed towards the back corner where they were located. My eyes followed the direction of his finger and that’s when I saw him. He was seated right next to the bathroom entrance at the Galaga arcade table.
It was John. I was completely caught off guard.
I froze for a moment unsure of what to do but then I realized that he couldn’t get me if I stayed with my team. I slowly sat down. That’s when the screaming began.
It took me a while to realize what was happening. It was loud and people at my table were starting to stand up and were obviously angry. That’s when I realized that my teammates were staring at me. What was going on? It was my dad! My dad had come storming into the pizza place and was yelling and screaming at the coach.
How dare they take his daughter without permission? How dare they just assume it would be okay?
Obviously it wasn’t. To say he was angry would be an understatement. He ordered me to grab my crap and get in the car. He made a scene in front of everyone and rushed me out. We drove the 5 minutes home and I went straight to my room. After all, this was my fault, wasn’t it? He yelled some more through the house as I put my baseball stuff away. He couldn’t believe that I would leave the fields like that, especially with people I barely knew. Would staying at the fields alone, at night have been any better? Apparently it would have been.
I never did get to eat that pizza. He never did see John that night. I went to bed hungry.
While I lay in bed trying to figure out why John was back and if I was once again losing my mind, the house was quiet. That was, until the phone rang. Who was calling so late? I still to this day have no clue who it was on the other end of line. All I can tell you is what I heard my dad say.
“She’s fine, she’s in bed.”
“Are you kidding me?”
“How did you find out?”
“It was John, wasn’t it?”
“What about those kids of hers?”
“Alright. I’ll take care of it. What hospital is she at?”